A new Hollywood movie looks at the tale of the Mississippi farmer who led a revolt against the Confederacy. Free State of Jones is set to hit the screens on June 21, 2016.
In the spring of 1864, the Knight Company overthrew the Confederate authorities in Jones County and raised the United States flag over the county courthouse in Ellisville. The county was known as the Free State of Jones, and some say it actually seceded from the Confederacy. This little-known, counterintuitive episode in American history has now been brought to the screen in Free State of Jones, directed by Gary Ross (who made sensational movies like Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games etc. ) and starring a grimy, scruffed-up Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight.
Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones.
Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War. After the Civil War, Knight took up with his grandfather’s former slave Rachel; they had five children together. Knight also fathered nine children with his white wife, Serena, and the two families lived in different houses on the same 160-acre farm. After he and Serena separated—they never divorced—Newt Knight caused a scandal that still reverberates by entering a common-law marriage with Rachel and proudly claiming their mixed-race children.
Read the full story of the Knight Company at: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/true-story-free-state-jones-180958111/?utm_source=smithsonianhistandarch&no-ist – Smithonian.